10 things youtube has done for you in 10 years

As YouTube celebrates its tenth birthday this year, i-D celebrates the ways it’s changed our lives.

by Colin Crummy
25 February 2015, 12:35pm

The first Youtube video was posted on April 23, 2005. It's of the site's co-founder Jawed Kareem making a really bad elephant joke. Since then online video has since morphed into a monster of stupid pranks, brilliant parodies and platform for serious politics. Here's ten ways Youtube has changed your life:

1. YouTube Taught You To Overshare
Before Snapchat gave us ten second sex shows, YouTube can lay claim to being the home of oversharing. Sure it started out tame enough in 2005 with home-video footage of a baby biting his brother's finger and a bloke documenting his bad hair day every day for six years. But it soon escalated. In 2007, Chris Crocker took two minutes out of his busy schedule to decry the media frenzy around Britney Spears. 49 million watches of Leave Britney Alone later Crocker had graduated into oversharing everything with a brief foray in porn; for the rest of us the era of revealing all to a laptop camera had truly landed. Next stop: turning pro.

2. It Gave You Professional Best Friends For Life
Letting others into your life via the medium of YouTube has become more than just a cry for professional help for both you and your pop idol. Ten years into the world of online video and you can make a living from being your target market's new BFF. From Zoella to Alfie Deyes there's a Vlogging pal for you somewhere in the YouTube universe.

3. It Created A New Kind of Fandom
If you aren't into watching a guy talk you through his gaming as he plays, you probably aren't one of PewdiePie's 34.5+ million followers. This sounds ridiculous, but Youtube's vastness has created space for specificity. 300 hours of video are uploaded onto YouTube every minute, but it's an extraordinarily intimate space. Beauty vlogger Bethany Mota puts both the reach and personal connection succinctly when she said: "I never thought I would have over six million best friends that are all around the world!" Youtube vloggers can't take all the credit but the trickle down effect is clear: there's a new focus on intimacy everywhere in fandom. Watch how a traditional boyband like One Direction operate, not able to answer a single question without making it about you, the fans.

4. YouTube Put You In The Driving Seat
If you want to make a point about, I don't know, everyday sexism, there really is no better way to illustrate it than walking around Manhattan with a video camera, picking up all the catcalls you get from men on the street. Pop it on YouTube, watch the hits roll in. YouTube has become a place where anyone, anywhere can make a statement. It's a place for the raw documentation of war and this wealth of material uploaded has helped us to expose wrongdoing. In 2013 Leicester based blogger Eliot Higgins identified weapons used in the Syrian conflict from watching clips in his suburban living room. His monitoring revealed a covert international operation to arm Syrian rebels. 

5. It Gave You Sophia Grace Brownlee
Sometimes those home made videos can take on a life of their own and sometimes they can end up on Ellen DeGeneres. This is what happened eight-year-old Sophia Grace Brownlee, who did an impressively spirited rendition of Nicki Minaj's Superbass while wearing a princess dress and not stopping to breathe. The people of YouTube liked it, about 47 million times and counting. The power of YouTube turned this British child into an all American conquering tween pop sensation.

6. It Put You In The Front Row
Aside from the online stores and vloggers, we've seen an extraordinary democratization of the fashion conversation. No longer are you shut out of the shows if you can stream them online from the comfort of your own living room. YouTube also gives fashion the opportunity to be completely absurd, a most recent excellent example being Victoria Beckham's 73 Questions for Vogue; for the absurdity to then be mercilessly, brilliantly parodied while it's still hot; and for fashion to show it has a sense of humor (Vicky B retweeted the spoof like the good sport she is). Parodies! Everyone loves youtube for a good parody.

7. YouTube Gave You A Reason Not To Go Out
Before Spotify stole its thunder, there was a moment where YouTube had the monopoly on house party music. You could get into quite the pop vortex once you started watching YouTube clips of music videos, performances and iconic moments. Be it Beyonce at Glasto, Bjork directed by Michel Gondry, or simply watching Nadine from Girls Aloud fight off a wasp at V Festival, for a time YouTube became the new MTV, with you in charge of the program. You could even relive the network's grunge heyday if you wanted by watching Nirvana Unplugged. YouTube gave you the power to summon up the ghosts of music past at the click of a button. As a result, our musical taste has never been more eclectic. Music got a second wind on Youtube, which is why terrible bands continue to tour twenty years on from their big moment.

8. And Made Us Professionals On The Dancefloor
YouTube also taught us to lip synch for our lives and dance like no one's watching. It's also provided us with a bedroom dance class. You pop down your local gay disco emporium this weekend and tell us if the boys and gals dancing their life away to Nicki Minaj's Anaconda haven't watched the video 60 times in order to perfect their slutdrop. And don't get us started on those Dirty Dancing routines at weddings.

9. YouTube Redefined Viral 
Nadine and the wasps may not be the ultimate in YouTube virals but popstar mishaps are where that particular trend started. The YouTube founders credit Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Superbowl for getting them thinking of an online video platform. Jackson's 'Nipplegate' - when Justin Timberlake ripped more than he meant to from her bra - started trending online but there was nowhere to watch JJ expose her breast, again and again. Now you can do that with the power of YouTube.

10. And It Gave Us Cute Animals
Bye bye!


Text Colin Crummy